Opinion: Save your memories without taking photos

If you have been to a wedding, baby shower or even a funeral in the past five years, you would've been hard-pressed to find the event not shrouded in the flashes of phone and camera lights.

There is no escaping the fact that the world we live in is seen through pictures saved to camera rolls and shared on every form of social media. The hashtag “pic or it didn’t happen” has been taken so literally that there is no escape from the process of “documenting memories” every single day. 

Raise your hand if you have seen a post for someone’s three-month anniversary (which does not count as an anniversary because the word "anniversary" means once per year) or someone’s weight loss transformation. Maybe it is just me, but these are things that I seldom care about seeing on a timeline because, chances are, I just do not know said person well enough to pay attention to all of their memories. 

The people whom you want to know these things should be the ones you speak to in human form — in person or on the phone. Conversations and surprises with friends are too often tainted by the fact that you found out their special news online already. The conversation holds no new information anymore. Announcements are sent out to your 900 followers instead of the 10 people you actually talk to in real life.

This is all because there is this human need to show off your life, compare it to everyone else’s and to “keep up.” I believe this is what drives the annoying picture-taking of every cute flower arrangement or dog picture or anything that you think is aesthetically pleasing. In the end, it's likely that other people don’t find your morning walk to be as beautiful of a thing as you did and no one really cares. 

For all these reasons, it is so important to think about every picture you’re taking and ask yourself a few questions. Will I look at this picture for years to come? Is this picture something that could only be captured once in a blue moon? Am I taking this picture to show off to others or for the purpose of my own joy and memories? When answering these questions, it can be pretty apparent that your reasons for taking so many pictures aren’t because you will go back and enjoy them so much in a few years but because, at this moment in time, you want everyone to see what you’re doing and be a little envious.

Psychologists have researched the effects of excessive photographing and warn people about several downsides, including the photo-taking-impairment effect, image overload and hastened self-awareness in children.

Photo-taking-impairment effect is a researched memory issue that happens when taking pictures rather than just looking at something. Subjects were found not to remember details of what they were looking at when taking pictures compared to not taking pictures. 

Another study showed that people who take a lot of selfies and people who do not take selfies are the same level of narcissistic, but the people who take and post selfies appear less likable, less attractive and more narcissistic than the people who posed for photos taken by others.

Image overload produces feelings of being overwhelmed and distracted as well as the inability to remember any one picture you’ve seen. Lastly, children are being harshly affected in this age of over-snapping photos because they are becoming more self-aware at a younger age. This can cause anxiety, vanity and self-criticism.

All in all, go to that concert and actually watch it with your eyes and listen with your ears instead of through a screen and iPhone speakers later. Science shows that you will remember the event better, others will be less annoyed with not seeing the whole concert posted in clips on Snapchat and you will most likely enjoy yourself more by living in the moment.

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